OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Holding a three-shot lead heading into the final round, Ole Miss golfer Braden Thornberry made sure no one would catch him by firing a 6-under 66 to capture the Old Waverly Collegiate Championship. Thornberry recorded seven birdies throughout his final round, finishing at 12-under (71-67-66--204) for the tournament and a five-shot victory.
The win begins a busy week for Thornberry. After picking up his fourth victory of the season and 11th for his Ole Miss career, adding to his school record, the No. 1 ranked amateur in the world (Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com) will take his talents to the pro circuit with the Web.com Tour in town. Thornberry will tee it up with the pros in the inaugural North Mississippi Classic (April 19-22) at the Country Club of Oxford.
Thornberry played nearly perfect throughout the tournament, making only three bogeys over 54 holes. He tallied 12 birdies and just one bogey during his final 36 holes of play. During Tuesday's final round, he was a steady 1-under through eight holes before finding his groove. The Olive Branch, Mississippi, native birdied five of the next seven holes, including three straight on holes 9-11. Following back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 and 15, Thornberry casually made three pars to complete his round and sign for a 66 (-6). Despite an impressive final round from Dawson Armstrong of Lipscomb (68), Thornberry maintained at least five shots ahead of the 84-man field.
As a team, No. 10 LSU won the event (287-291-277--855) by going 11-under during the final round. The low score allowed the Tigers to overcome a five-shot deficit to the Rebels, who led after the first two rounds of play. No. 34 Ole Miss (284-289-297--870) held a two-shot lead heading into the back nine but stumbled down the stretch to finish third behind No. 20 South Florida (286-297-285--868). Despite Tuesday's struggles on the back nine, the Rebels finished ahead of fourth-place Mississippi State (296-290-288--874) and 11 other teams on the Bulldogs' home course.
After Thornberry, senior Kerry Sweeney posted the team's second-best score of the day. The Melbourne, Florida, native made par on his first eight holes before picking up a birdie on No. 9. Making the turn a 1-under, a pair of bogeys and a double bogey on the back forced Sweeney to settle for a 75 (+3). Finishing 4-over for the tournament (70-75-75--220), Sweeney placed in a tie for 12th.
Beau Briggs and Josh Seiple posted 78s to contribute to the team scoring. Entering the final round at even par, Briggs remained at even with nine holes to play thanks to two birdies and two bogeys on the front side. He posted 6-over (71-73-78--222) for the tournament, tied for 22nd. Like Sweeney, Seiple was 1-under at the turn thanks to a pair of birdies on two par 5s. With the addition of four pars on the back nine, the redshirt junior made 10 throughout his 18 holes.
The Rebels return to action next week, heading to Sea Island, Georgia for the SEC Championship (April 25-29). For the 18th year, the tournament will be contested on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. The first three days will consist of 54 holes of stroke play, 18 each day, before the field is cut to eight teams for match play to decide the conference champion.
"Today's round certainly wasn't what we had in mind coming into the day," said head coach Chris Malloy. "We played a good front nine and put ourselves in a position to win. Unfortunately, we did not execute shots or do a very good job mentally on the last nine holes to win this tournament. There is no doubt we will learn from this and be ready to play in next week's SEC Championship. On the other hand, I'm incredibly proud of Braden. He played well throughout these last two days and didn't make many mistakes out there. He is in control of his game right now, and he deserved that victory."
1. Braden Thornberry 71-67-66--204 (-12)
T12. Kerry Sweeney 70-75-75--220 (+4)
T22. Beau Briggs 71-73-78--222 (+6)
T42. Cecil Wegener 72-75-81--228 (+12)
T51. Josh Seiple 78-74-78--230 (+14)
*T46. Chip Getz 79-72-78--229 (+13)
*Competing as an individual
Team Standings (GolfStat rankings top 50)
1. #10 LSU 287-291-277--855 (-9)
2. #20 South Florida 286-297-285--868 (+4)
3. #34 Ole Miss 284-289-297--870 (+6)
4. Mississippi State 296-290-288--874 (+10)
5. Lipscomb 291-299-288--878 (+14)
6. Coastal Carolina 299-295-287--881 (+17)
7. ULM 300-293-292--885 (+21)
8. South Alabama 293-295-300--888 (+24)
9. Memphis 316-306-286--908 (+44)
10. Chattanooga 306-307-296--909 (+45)
11. Louisiana 318-304-292--914 (+50)
12. McNeese 299-303-316--918 (+54)
13. Little Rock 308-309-302--919 (+55)
14. Southern Miss 314-303-305--922 (+58)
15. Louisiana Tech 309-314-301--924 (+60)
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